We’ve been obsessing over these islands for ages, but we actually, honestly, know very little about them. So here’s a little course in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Enjoy!
1. The words ‘Andaman’ and ‘Nicobar’ are taken from the Malay language.
‘Andaman’ is derived from the Malay word for the Hindu deity Hanuman, and ‘Nicobar’ means ‘the land of naked people.’
2. The most widely spoken language on the islands is not Andamanese or Nicobarese.
The most common language here is Bengali followed by Hindi, Tamil, Telgu and Malayalam.
3. The tribes inhabiting these islands don’t interact with outsiders.
Residents of these islands mainly belong to the ‘Jarwa’ tribe, fondly known as the adivasi. They are less than 500 in number and do not interact with outsiders.
4. The largest sea turtles nest here.
These islands inhabit endless marine cultures, but the most famous of them all are sea turtles. Dermocheleys Coriacea, the largest sea turtles in the world nest here. They are huge in size and thousands of them flock to the Andamans every year. Additionally, even the Olive Ridely turtles come to the Andamans and use it as their nesting ground.
5. Commercial fishing is banned on the Andaman Islands.
Yes, and that’s great news because this is one of the very few places in the world where fish die of old age and get to live their entire life.
6. The largest living arthropod Birgus Latro resides here.
These crabs are also known as coconut crabs because they eat tender coconuts. They are large in size and hate water. In South Asia, the highest numbers of these crabs are found at the Andamans.
7. The 20 rupee note depicts a scene from Andaman and Nicobar islands
The scenery on our red coloured 20 rupee note depicts a natural scene on the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
8. Two islands at Andaman are named after officers of the East India Company.
And these are the Havelock and Neil islands.
9. During WW2, Andaman and Nicobar islands were the only part of India to come under Japanese occupation.
The Japanese did occupy parts of North-Eastern India, but only for six months. Surprisingly, these islands were a part of Japanese occupation for three years.
10. The state animal of Andaman and Nicobar islands is Dugong.
Dugongs are a special sea mammal that are extremely shy to mate. There are only five breeding centres for these sea animals and Andaman is one of them. You can spot these in Little Andaman.
11. These islands are the happy land of butterflies.
A lot of butterflies flock to Andaman and Nicobar from nearby tropical islands.
12. These islands received the first sunrise of this millennium.
Katchal Islands enjoyed the distinction of being the first place to receive the sun rays this millennium sunrise.
13. The only active volcano in India is present in Andaman.
Barren Island, situated 135 km away from Port Blair, is where you can see this live volcano.
Cover image by Joachim Gotz